Sitting in quiet meditation isn’t always the ideal antidote to late nights of repetitive manual labor and intense professional stress, according to the instructor who will lead Ben’s Friends’ first yoga session for Charleston Wine + Food Festival participants.
“Being still is super intimidating,” says Ashley Bell, owner of Reverb Yoga. “It can be stressful in and of itself. Sitting on the ground can be one of the less comfortable things, so I always encourage people to lie down: This is less party trick yoga, and more about creating a practice around functional mobility.”
The Saturday morning session in the Culinary Village will be one of three support programs offered by Ben’s Friends, a network founded in 2016 by Mickey Bakst of Charleston Grill and Steve Palmer of Indigo Road to help fellow food-and-beverage professionals coping with substance abuse and addiction. The group will also host after-parties at The Macintosh on Friday and Saturday nights.
“Ben’s Friends wanted to have a presence at the festival as a safe and restorative place for chefs and restaurant professionals,” Indigo Road spokeswoman Lacey Outten says.
Before Bell’s studio closed, it weekly hosted free classes for members of the local food-and-beverage community. While those classes were taught by another instructor, Bell says she plans to offer similar classes in the future; she’s hoping to secure funding by the end of the month, so she can share more details at the festival.
“Even in the yoga world, the trend has been toward a very athletic style,” Bell says. “What I hope (is) to offer these folks in a very high-stress industry something geared toward freedom.”